Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Ideas that Matter - Commission trainees share inspiration.

The ten stagiaire speakers of I
deas That Matter together on the stage
Speaker Linda Romanovska (DG CLIMA) on the importance
of social capital for adaptation to climate change
On 22 February, the Hub Brussels hosted an event called 'Stagiaires' Ideas that Matter: our Impact on the World'. Organised by Commission trainees, the objective of Ideas That Matter was to gather people open to new ideas and to demonstrate that European youth's ideas do matter in the struggle to make the world a better place. Commission officials, NGO staff, academics and entrepreneurs joined the trainees to listen to the speakers, ten of whom were trainees and the other two represented Brussels-based NGOs – Friends of the Earth and One Laptop per Child.

 All the evening's talks revolved around sustainability, development and human rights. Clémence Cavoli (DG MOVE) challenged the audience asking whether 'we are too many on Earth',
Cillian O'Donoghue (DG ENER) pointed out the importance of energy diversification, and Linda Romanovska (DG CLIMA) reminded the audience that social capital is an important element of adaptive capacity, and that our everyday actions and attitudes also influence climate change. Offering more personal perspectives, Basia Opalska (DG JUST) argued that role models are crucial for inspiring and encouraging us to become better people, especially in the case of women who have a tendency to underestimate themselves; while Juan Véliz (DG DEVCO) made a point about the importance of native cultures and traditions in the changing societies of globalised world, claiming we are vehicles of continuity and should, therefore, cherish the heritage of our ancestors. These and all other talks are published on the website of Ideas That Matter.
Some of the public attentively listening to
what the speakers have to say
Our impact on the world

The impulse to organise such a conference came from the cooperation between the Commission trainees' Environment and Solidarity subcommittees. After introducing the concept, more trainees joined to form a bottom-up organisation team. "We wanted to show fellow trainees and a larger public that we can have an impact on the world, that every little helps and each individual can make a difference," declared Jasper Bergink (DG HOME), one of the three co-ordinators. "In the current economic situation, innovative and creative ideas are crucial. By stimulating people with our expertise and personal stories, we felt we could truly show that our ideas do matter." Inspiring ideas were hovering in the former chocolate factory for two and half hours. Both the organising team and speakers were encouraged by the feedback – "This was the most interesting event of the stage!" was one of the comments on the feedback board after the event. TED concept 'Ideas that Matter' was inspired by the famous TED concept, gathering leading thinkers in an event referred to sometimes as "the ultimate brain spa". In the TED spirit, the trainees designed the programme to enable organisations and individuals to stimulate a dialogue and exchange ideas worth spreading. What next after such a rollercoaster ride of inspiring ideas? The young people in the organising team are all finishing their traineeship now and the next in-take of trainees will have the opportunity to take up the initiative to prove once more that youth's voice deserves to be heard.

Text: Vendula Havlíková / Stagiaires' Ideas That Matter
Photo's: Inga Vaiciakauskaite / Stagiaires' Ideas That Matter